The City of Portland promised that there would be a mass exodus of homeless folk from the shores of the Columbia Slough before the New Year (“Slough Town inflames debate over who owns Columbia Slough” MCM December 2016). Until March, there was little movement; however, businesses remained undeterred from setting up shop in the area.
In January, Hookset Automotive & Tires made the plunge and moved to a much larger, more luxurious facility located north of Sandy Boulevard along the Slough on Northeast 112th Avenue. Previously, it sat at its fixed position in the Roseway neighborhood Northeast Sandy Boulevard at Northeast 76th Avenue since its opening in February 2006.
Married couple James and Angie Jenkins own Hookset Automotive; Angie is the current president of the Parkrose Business Association. Ironically, Hookset was not formerly located within the walls of the Parkrose business district, but it is now following the move. Surprisingly, this factor, which hinted at increased fiscal autonomy for Angie given her position within the PBA, was not what motivated the business’s new address.
In fact, the Jenkins didn’t want to move their business at all.
“We had a verbal agreement that we were going to buy the old property [on Northeast 76th and Sandy], and somebody told the owners that they wanted to pay twice as much as we agreed upon,” explains Angie. “The owners weren’t interested in renewing the lease, and we didn’t want to pay $700,000 when there were environmental issues like gas tanks in the ground.”
The Jenkins, both born and bred in Twin Falls, Idaho, moved to the Parkrose area in 2002. After opening their business four years later, they received a warm reception from locals. To their disappointment, though, the Sandy facility lacked the space for all the amenities that they wished to offer their customers and staff.
Hookset’s new home next to Slough Town reads more like a high-income retirement community than an auto shop. This reflects the owners’ relaxed, community-based attitude.
“We went from 3,600 square feet total to a 5,000-square-foot warehouse, and then I have a 1,800-square-foot weight lobby house,” says Jenkins. “We have an actual playroom for the kids, a workout room, a movie theater, and a full-on kitchen—so if somebody wants to compete to make the best cookies, they can. We’re trying to give people the option to take a break.”
Still, there are aspects of the old Hookset location that Angie will miss.
“It was a fantastic location,” she reflects. “It was very walkable, with friendly neighbors. I’m going to miss all of that, but now I own an acre of land. If we had to buy the old building, we would have had to add onto it, and we would have had to take out the parking lot. Now, if you have a fishing license, you have the Slough right there.”
Angie claims that the homeless population of Slough Town has been present but visibly less vocal in the past month. Gilligan, one of its most recognizable faces, was around when Hookset first moved in. Since then, Angie recalls a violent fight with a pipe, and she believes Gilligan may have been ousted from his home by his own community. She refers to the homeless community as “her neighbors.”
“I was excited to see Gilligan; I’ve known him for a while,” says Jenkins. “But his neighbors are not so friendly.”
The Jenkins are frustrated with the City of Portland, which claimed that Slough Town would be a distant memory before Christmas.
“It’s frustrating when you’re told one thing by the City and it doesn’t happen. We were told when we signed the paperwork that the Slough Town community would be relocated by now and that the community would be dissolved by December,” says Jenkins. “I just sent an e-mail [to the city] saying, “Hey, it’s now the end of February.’ If there was communication, it would be less frustrating.”
For more information about Hookset Automotive, 5432 N.E. 112th Ave., visit their website (www.hooksetautomotive.com) or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/hooksetautomotive), or call them at 503-287-2877.
Editor’s note: In March, after this article was completed, Slough Town was evacuated, the site was cleaned up, and the property is now locked and gated.